Israel-Gaza violence: Palestinian toll hits 583, UN says 80% of those killed were civilians

Even as the UN called for an immediate ceasfire in the region following the bloodiest day in the violence, Israel and Hamas continued exchanging fire for the fifteenth day, raising the death toll to 572.

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Jul 22, 2014, 14:58 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Gaza City: Even as the UN called for an immediate ceasfire in the region following the bloodiest day in the violence, Israel and Hamas continued exchanging fire for the fifteenth day, raising the Palestinian death toll to 583.

A whopping 70 to 80 percent of those killed are civilians, according to the UN, adding that at least 120 of them are children.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday arrived in Cairo in renewed push for a ceasefire.

The Obama administration has assigned Mr Kerry the significant task of brokering a ceasefire after President Barack Obama yesterday issued a fresh call for truce to take hold in the violence-stricken region.

"It now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting," said Obama.

On Day 14 of Operation Protective Edge, an Israeli shelling killed at least five and injured dozens in a Gaza hospital.

Israel said it targeted what it called a cache of anti-tank missiles in the "immediate vicinity" of a hospital.

Israel accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields and using places like hospital, playgrounds, mosques, schools etc. to fire rockets.

Monday`s violence claimed at least 56 lives in Gaza, taking the total death toll in two weeks to 572, said Gazan health ministry. Majority of those killed are said to be civilians, including children. According to the UN, over 100,000 Gazans have now been displaced.

Israel too, lost seven soldiers on Monday, bringing the total Israeli death toll to 29, that included two Israeli civilians. And Sunday, that was the 13th day of Israel-Gaza violence, Israel lost 13 soldiers, highest one-day toll yet since 2006 war.

Of the seven soldiers that were attacked on July 20, one remains missing, and efforts are on to trace him, said the IDF on its Twitter account.

It may be noted that Hamas`s military wing had yesterday claimed capturing an Israeli soldier, which was denied by Israel`s UN envoy.

Despite growing death toll, Hamas continued to fire a barrage of rockets towards Israel, with many of them being intercepted by Iron Dome.

The IDF meanwhile continued its strikes and ground offensive in Gaza and claimed having killed 10 militants yesterday when two terrorist cells infiltrated Israel through a tunnel from Northern Gaza Strip.
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 to stop Hamas rockets falling into Israel. Last Thursday, Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza to destroy tunnels used by the Hamas militants to infiltrate. 

Since the beginning of the ground phase of the operation, the IDF says, it has uncovered 23 Hamas terror tunnels.